19 September 2007

Banana-flavored Sake

So it just occurred to me that sake has been around in Japan longer than bananas. Sometimes when you get a strong-smelling sake, it has the scent of bananas. This is due to the presence of isoamyl acetate. If you turn your perspective around, though, imagine the first Japanese sake drinker to eat a banana. It would be like discovering a whisky-fruit!

11 September 2007


I have two peaches on my desk that I picked up from a fruit dish here in the office. They were kinda hard when I picked them up, but I figured they'd ripen on my desk. Instead, they're going bad. Fruit that rots before it ripens. That's where we've gotten ourselves.

04 September 2007

Scrambled Eggs

So, I've gone over almost exclusively to doing my scrambled eggs French-style. That is, with very small curds, still very moist. I do it by using a non-nonstick pan, either my copper saucepan or a cast iron pan, and a whisk. I put the eggs with a little butter over medium-low heat and just keep whisking them until they congeal. I take them off heat well before they start to look cooked. Otherwise, they'll overcook. The texture ends up creamy and satisfying. It also feels like because of this, there's more egg there. Three eggs done this way will satisfy M and I very well. Also, they don't need cheese or other fillings for richness. The slightly underdone quality makes them very custardy. Needless to say, you need to use only very fresh eggs if you intend to undercook them or use them raw, as in a mayonnaise. I get mine from my butcher. They are straight from the farm. The expiration date is often six weeks out. This allows me to make spaghetti alla carbonara correctly as well.

The eggs in carbonara end up just-cooked as well, from the heat of the just-boiled pasta and the pan. The big trick I've found with this dish, though, is that the eggs absolutely must be at room temperature before being added to the pasta and fried pancetta. If they're cold, they just cool down the pasta and don't cook, which means you have to heat them with the pasta, which results in an uneven heat coming from the bottom of the pan, leaving you with scrambled egg pasta rather than that rich custard that makes this dish worth eating. If you have the eggs at room temp (or fudge it by putting them in the microwave for 10 seconds per egg), then the pasta gets them to just the right point without cooling down too much and without any extra heat.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

100 g. spaghetti per person.
1 very fresh, room temperature egg per person + 1 more "for the pot"
1 slice pancetta, chopped, per person
Parmigiano Reggiano

While the spaghetti is boiling, fry off the pancetta in a cast iron pan, pouring off most of the excess fat that collects. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and then beat in a generous amount of grated Parmigiano. When the spaghetti is ready, use tongs to transfer it to the cast iron skillet, then pour the eggs over and stir until the eggs start to congeal, without forming curds. Transfer into heated bowls (a ladle of pasta water in each near the end of cooking will do this), top with more Parmigiano and lots of black pepper and serve.

Serves 2-10. (Make this at your own risk, of course. Undercooked eggs, like undercooked meat or undercooked organically grown baby spinach, present inherent food safety risks.)